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The power — and the problem — with ‘passion’



When I was 8 years old, my parents would let me pull out their typewriter (computers were a good five to seven years away for me back then) and write short stories.


There was the story about the outcast — a blond Native American girl struggling to fit in — and the one about sex — which I only knew was something I wasn’t supposed to talk about. And writing them was one of my absolute favorite things to do. I loved the clicking of the keys. I loved to see the words start to peck their way across the page. I love to feel like a real writer, because I was writing, like real writers do.


I didn’t have the word at the time, but I’d found “passion.”


That’s our word this month — chosen over “love” because, although “love” is a pretty game-changing word, it’s too broad. You can love a dog or a child or a nail polish or a car. You can have puppy love or true love, friend love and that deep, all-of-us-are-really-one yoga kind of love.


“Passion,” on the other hand, relates specifically to action. You feel a drive, an urge, a compelling need to do one thing or another. And it propels you forward, each and every day, to do great, game-changing, life-altering, world-shifting things.


At 8 years old, I felt that kind of passion. I chose writing over bike rides and Barbie dolls, TV and beach days. And I’ve been writing pretty much ever since. Sometimes that has come with passion; sometimes not. But I’ve kept going.


Maybe that’s why I’ve always had a kind of love/hate relationship with the word “passion” — because it’s not a cure-all. Because sometimes passion fades. And that’s when you have to tap into something deeper. Doing something you’re passionate about is easy. You want to do it. Without passion, what do you rely on to push you forward?


I’m going to go with “commitment.” When I sit down to write an article or a case study or even a blog post, there comes a point in the process when it stops being fun, where I stop feeling the “passion.” But I commit to getting it done — to pushing past the discomfort and the hard to finish what I started.


The funny thing is, that cathartic, non-sensical process almost reignites the passion. You finish what you started, despite the challenge, and you remember why you are compelled to do what you do. And then, reason be damned, you do the whole thing again.


We’re going to keep talking about “passion” all this month on Brave New Word social channels. Follow us — and tell us, what are you passionate about? And what discomfort have you pushed through to fuel your passion even more?